128th Air Refueling Wing hosts Great Lakes Fly-In

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jenna Hildebrand
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
Top military and government agency leaders of the Great Lakes region gathered at the 128th Air Refueling Wing to discuss emergency response plans for neighboring states and Canadian provinces, Friday and Saturday.

The representatives of the organizations responsible for consequence management of the Great Lakes region discussed preparedness and opportunities to enhance overall readiness.

Attendees of the fly-in included the adjutant generals and Directorates of the Joint Staff from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Representatives from National Guard Bureau, U.S. Northern Command, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Canada, and the Ninth Coast Guard District attended.

"The 128th Air Refueling Wing is a jewel for us in the Wisconsin National Guard," said Major Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "There is a major airport, it is in a port city on the Great Lakes, and what is very important is that in this tough fiscal time, we are able invite people to military base at a very low cost to the tax payer and have a very meaningful meeting."

Attendees of the fly-in regarded the Great Lakes as a national treasure to be preserved in any emergency.  The combined population of the bi-national region is nearly 36 percent of both countries.

The meeting for emergency response "is going to help save time, money and lives -- the most important thing in an emergency," said Dunbar. "That's who had the benefit of today."

"Undoubtedly the biggest, most important aspect of this meeting is relationship building," said Brig. Gen. Omer Lavoie, Commander of Land Forces Central Area and Commander of Joint Task Force Central, both in Ontario, Canada.

It was beneficial to come down to the U.S. and meet his counterparts before actually being involved in an operation that may come down the road, said Lavoie.

Lavoie said now that they've established a relationship, "the time is right to develop a campaign plan and figure out 'how do we actually exercise on a bi-national basis?'  And establish liaison teams back and forth from my command to respective U.S. National Guard commands."

"You know it's been said by Gen. Eisenhower, before he was president, that 'Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,'" said Dunbar.